Interactive Media Design Career Training in San Francisco, CA

Research interactive media design career training in San Francisco, which currently has more than 10 schools offering programs. Read an overview of the degree programs, admission info, and program requirements for three schools within 35 miles of downtown and decide which program is right for you.

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San Francisco Schools with Interactive Media Design Career Training Programs

The San Francisco, CA, area features a number of schools with interactive media design programs that train students in basic animation and graphic design techniques. This article explores three of those schools, none more than 40 minutes from the city center, and the degree programs they offer. It also includes a table of data about these schools, such as enrollment, tuition, graduation rate and acceptance rate. Following that is some information about a few other San Francisco-area schools with relevant programs.

  • Just three miles from the heart of the city is the San Francisco campus of the California College of the Arts. It offers two relevant bachelor's degrees, one in animation and the other in graphic design.
  • California State University - East Bay is in Hayward, California, about 28 miles from downtown San Francisco. It provides a bachelor's degree program in multimedia and another in graphic art. This school also offers a master's degree in multimedia.
  • Diablo Valley College, 30 miles from San Francisco in Pleasant Hill, offers two certificate programs and an associate's degree program in art digital media.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Multimedia and Digital Communication

Comparison of Schools

Individuals who are deciding on a college should be aware of many factors about the schools they are considering. The following table showcases information about these three institutions in a way that makes it easy to compare them.

California College of the Arts California State University - East Bay Diablo Valley College
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2014) 1,998* 14,823* 20,089*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city Large suburb
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016) $43,708* $6,564 in-state;
$17,724 out-of-state*
$1,298 in-state;
$7,542 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2014) 79%* 76%* 33%*
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate(2014) 64%* 70%* Open admissions*
Retention Rate for First-Time Students (2014) 80% full-time* 81% full-time;
62% part-time*
79% full-time;
51% part-time*
Graduation Rate (2014) 54%* 38% (5% transfer-out rate)* 39% (12% transfer-out rate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, this institution offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree plans related to various aspects of the fine arts. It holds accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), among other organizations. Undergraduates interested in interactive media design may major in animation or graphic design.

Bachelor of Arts in Animation

This 126-credit program trains students for work in the animation industry, emphasizing keen observation skills, the authentic portrayal of emotion and behavior, and visual storytelling. Humanities/sciences requirements include courses in animation history, visual studies, and writing. The remaining 75 credits consist of studio work, seminars, and workshops in drawing, animation, visual storytelling, character design, sound, and production. A senior project on pre-production and production is required. Students have access to visiting professional animators from studios like DreamWorks and Pixar.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

This degree program demands that students complete a total of 126 credit hours, including 51 hours in coursework that fulfills the humanities and sciences requirement. The other 75 hours are dedicated to classes and studio training in the major, including graphic design; interactive design; 2-D, 3-D, and 4-D graphics; typography; and media history. All students must complete a senior thesis project, and internships are available to help students get experience in settings like design firms, museums, publishing houses, and nonprofit organizations.

California State University

Founded in 1957, California State University (CSU) - East Bay currently boasts enrollment of more than 13,000 students on four campuses. Enrollees can select from 52 bachelor's degree programs, 39 master's degree programs and 65 undergraduate minors, including studies in interactive media design.

Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia

Undergraduate artists can select from specializations in art studio, art history, photography, pictorial arts, graphic design, spatial arts, and multimedia. Students will complete 180 credit hours, including 86 units in the major. The multimedia option includes classes in animation, digital video, digital imaging, interactive authoring, modern art, and new media. This degree program concludes with an 8-credit capstone senior project.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Those seeking a BFA degree rather than a BA will complete at least 180 credit hours, with 102 units in the major. Before being accepted into the BFA program, candidates must be enrolled in the BA program. They must also complete 30 credits in studio art with a GPA of at least 3.5 and submit a portfolio of work for faculty approval. Once enrolled, students will complete 78 credits worth of classes in drawing, new media, design, art, typography, art history, and web authoring. This degree plan also requires 16 units of upper division studio electives and a senior capstone project in graphic design.

Master of Arts in Multimedia

This 2-year interdisciplinary program is designed to develop real-world career skills in the multimedia arts by combining computer science, art, telecommunications, business, and education. The program requires 52 study units, of which 44 will be in such required courses as multimedia software development, multimedia design theory, and creating interactive content. Students work together to develop professional quality interactive media projects, and the program concludes with a senior capstone project.

Diablo Valley College

More than 22,000 students annually participate in the certificate and associate's degree programs at Diablo Valley College (DVC). The school has articulation agreements with 4-year institutions in the area, so graduates can transfer and complete a bachelor's degree program. DVC has three options related to digital and interactive media, including two certificates and an associate's degree.

Certificate of Accomplishment in Art Digital Media

This 16.5-credit program provides instruction in technologies related to the presentation of art and information. Students take core classes in drawing, as well as digital imaging, digital sound, and digital video. Through electives, they can explore motion graphics, 3D modeling, interactivity, and animation. This training is intended to improve the skills of the professional artist and to provide new students with an introduction to the field.

Certificate of Achievement in Art Digital Media

This program is similar to the certificate of accomplishment, but participants must complete 33.5 credit hours in order to earn it. Students must take seven required courses in basic art and digital imaging. They may then select eight or nine units from available specializations, including character animation, digital imaging, digital audio, motion graphics, Web design, or 3-D modeling and animation.

Associate of Arts in Art Digital Media

This degree program prepares individuals for entry-level employment in the digital imaging industry. Students complete 33.5 credit hours and select a specialization from among 3-D modeling and animation, digital imaging, motion graphics, Web design, digital audio, or character animation. Students must complete seven required classes and eight or nine units from their specialization. Students must also complete nine credits in electives.

Other School Options

Students who'd like to study interactive media design in the San Francisco area might also consider Berkeley City College, about 14 miles northeast across San Francisco Bay. This 2-year public school awards a multimedia arts certificate in animation, digital imaging or digital video arts, and an associate's degree in multimedia animation or digital imaging. Another option is the City College of San Francisco, a large public school with nearly 35,000 students that is less than seven miles from downtown San Francisco. This school doesn't have degree programs in interactive media, but it does offer certificates in visual media production, digital animation and game development.

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